Oral Answers to Questions — Communist Publications (Police Inquiries).

– in the House of Commons on 21st March 1929.

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Photo of Mr Shapurji Saklatvala Mr Shapurji Saklatvala , Battersea North

12.

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that during the past five weeks visits have been made by persons claiming to belong to the special branch of the Criminal Investigation Department on private individuals, printing firms, and a publishing house, interrogating them about the British edition of the programme of the Communist International and a manifesto issued by the Communist party of Great Britain on the recent riots in Bombay; whether such action is taken at his instance; and what is the reason for it?

Photo of Mr William Joynson-Hicks Mr William Joynson-Hicks , Twickenham

These publications having been brought to my notice, it appeared to me to be desirable to ascertain who are responsible for them, and the inquiries referred to were accordingly made at my request.

Photo of Mr Shapurji Saklatvala Mr Shapurji Saklatvala , Battersea North

When a manifesto is issued by a political organisation, is it not sufficient to let the responsibility rest with that organisation; were any warrants issued to make those searches, or to molest those persons; on what grounds was that action taken; and what was the power of the Home Secretary to take that action?

Photo of Sir Patrick Hannon Sir Patrick Hannon , Birmingham Moseley

Is it not a fact that this is a revolutionary, not a political organisation?

Photo of Mr William Joynson-Hicks Mr William Joynson-Hicks , Twickenham

The answer is that I desired to know who was responsible for this document, and I sent someone to make inquiries. There was no molestation; there was no warrant. I simply asked for inquiries, and I got certain answers.

Photo of Mr Shapurji Saklatvala Mr Shapurji Saklatvala , Battersea North

Does not the Home Secretary recognise that if a newspaper publishes something, the editor is responsible, and that if an organisation publishes a manifesto, the committee of the organisation is responsible? Why go to the homes of clerks, typists, printers and compositors to find out who is responsible for it, and under what authority was it done?

Photo of Mr William Joynson-Hicks Mr William Joynson-Hicks , Twickenham

If the hon. Member will give me the name of the responsible committee, I shall be a very happy man.

Photo of Mr Shapurji Saklatvala Mr Shapurji Saklatvala , Battersea North

There is one important point. Will the Home Secretary assure this House that he did not take this irregular action at the instance of the India Office to create a "stunt" in order to pass a Safety Bill in the Assembly?